Michelle Jubelirer Steps Down as Capitol Music Chairman-CEO

Michelle Jubelirer, who has been chairman-CEO of Capitol Music Group for the past two years, will step down from her post, effective immediately, according to an internal memo obtained by Variety.

The move is the first in what is expected to be hundreds of departures in a forthcoming reorganization of Capitol parent Universal Music Group, which was announced by chairman-CEO Lucian Grainge last fall and confirmed late last month when the company announced a realignment of its labels’ reporting structures, with West Coast labels (including Capitol) falling under Interscope and East Coast under Republic.

Jubelirer is the second female label chief to leave Universal in recent months, following Ethiopia Habtemariam’s departure from Motown just under two years ago, amid multiple layoffs at that company. Atlantic’s Julie Greenwald and Epic’s Sylvia Rhone are the only two remaining female major-label heads; Jody Gerson at Universal Music Publishing and Warner Chappell co-chair Carianne Marshall are at the top of major publishing companies.

Jubelirer’s departure has been rumored for several weeks, as gossip swirled about the impending layoffs and restructuring. Nonetheless the news comes after two years of solid growth under her leadership at the company, from an essentially flat start: While she had been tipped to take over the company in 2019, Grainge instead hired former Artist Partner Group executive Jeff Vaughn as president of the label, who then took the Capitol Music Group helm in November of 2020 after longtime chief Steve Barnett retired. He never found his footing and left less than a year later, with Jubelirer taking over. Under her charge, the company has seen major successes with Sam Smith — whose “Unholy” was a global hit last year — and Ice Spice, among others. However, sources tell Variety that she elected not to continue with the company’s new reporting structure.

Prior to joining Capitol, she was an attorney at Sony Music and later at King, Holmes, Paterno & Berliner, with a client roster that included Frank Ocean, Pharrell Williams and M.I.A.

The memo appears below in full; followed by a statement from Grainge released shortly after the news broke.

“To my Capitol Music Group Team,

“I wanted you to hear this news directly from me:  I’ve made the extremely difficult decision to leave the company that has been my home for more than a decade, and so, today will be my last as Chair & CEO of Capitol Music Group.

“I am deeply saddened that I will no longer be at the company we rebuilt and took to new heights over the past two years.  As I’ve said before, I don’t think any label group has been able to turn things around as quickly as we have managed to, and I’m certain that we’ve set Capitol Music Group on course toward a great future.

“Together, we became a real team; a diverse group of individuals bonded by our love of music and passion for artistry, and whose differences in backgrounds and cultural tastes made each of us stronger advocates and champions for our artists.  In such a competitive and fast-paced world, we gave it our all—every minute of every day—so that our artists could seize the opportunity to realize their dreams and ultimately succeed.

“I am so fortunate to work in a business that I love and be constantly surrounded by music and the talented people that create it.  Every day, I renewed my promise to do my very best for our artists, and they have given me so much in return.  No matter where I find myself in this business, I will always approach my relationships with artists as their advocate, their protector, and their fan.

“I will let you know of my future plans as soon as I can.

“In closing, let me simply say to each of you: Thank You.  It has been my honor to be on this journey with you.

“With love and appreciation, Michelle”

In a statement, Grainge wrote: “We will miss Michelle. She’s been a part of Universal’s leadership for more than a decade, most recently as the extraordinary Chair and CEO of Capitol Music Group, which remains firmly set on a course toward long term success. As we proceed to centralize many of CMG’s label functions with those of Interscope Geffen A&M, we respect her decision to pursue other endeavors, and wish her all the best.”

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